The Gorbals – Lacking any good way to describe this funky little hangout – that’s the vibe here, much more than “restaurant” – the chef has, on occasion, fallen back on “Kosher Scottish.” Well, it works as well as anything, I suppose, since there’s both haggis and bacon-wrapped matzo balls on the menu. The latter, much-hyped on the internets, are OK and amusing, but I have to say that pretty much everything else we try is better. The confit beef tongue, especially, is so luxuriant one wants to lick it from the plate in a misguided dalliance with bovine Frenching.
I will note several caveats. First, the wine list (such as it is, and there isn’t much) is absolutely abysmal. Have a cocktail or two from the daily board – they’re clever and very good here – but bring your own wine. Second, while I do successfully navigate a satisfying-to-all meal despite a vegan dining companion, it would be hard to argue that this isn’t a place aimed primarily at carnivores. Having an interest in alternative cuts and “parts” helps, too. It’s not Incanto- or St. John-like in terms of offal worship, though there are certainly organs on the menu, but if minor departures like beef cheeks or sweetbreads seem intimidating and weird, this is probably not the venue for you.
Caveats aside, this is a really fun place, built for grazing and conversation (though I suspect it can get rather noisy at peak times), rather than sitting down and tucking in. It’s casual, quite laid-back, and the sense of comfort and low-key whimsy carries though to the plate. I don’t know if this restaurant could succeed everywhere, just because the vibe is so anti-restaurant, but it certainly works here.
Dettori 2007 Romangia Bianco Badde Nigolosu (Sardinia) – 100% vermentino. Looks, tastes, and feels like an orange wine, though the maceration isn’t all that long (ten days). It’s perhaps that it’s unfiltered and un-everything-else that leads to an orange sort of palate impression, though there is evident tannin. The luxuriant yet not overly polished texture is the wine’s primary highlight (among rather a sea thereof). Dried white flowers, some fresher buds, grasses, herbs, dried citrus, leaves, minerality to spare, and gravity without weight, density without concentration. Brilliant wine. Absolutely brilliant. (11/10)
Dettori 2006 Romangia Rosso Badde Nigolosu (Sardinia) – 100% cannonau (grenache). Subtle, seeming to rise from its lotus position with a slow unfolding of limbs. The subtlety never really goes away, though, and those expecting a more standard Sardinian cannonau – that is, one with a big and fruity palate impact – might be disappointed. Well, their loss. This requires attention to its graceful swirls of dusty berry and rich, semi-volcanic earth. The finish is so quiet that the inattentive will consider it to have departed long before it actually does. Not as showily brilliant as the white, this has more peaceful charms, and they’re more than OK. (11/10)